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1st Capacity - Building Workshop, Karnataka

CAG has initiated the ‘Accelerating Clean Energy Transition by Improving Stakeholder Participation for Electricity Governance in India’ project in five Indian states - Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Telangana, Chhattisgarh and Tripura from January 2024. The initiative aims to improve stakeholder participation in electricity governance to accelerate clean energy transition in India. Stakeholders here refer to various consumer categories, CSOs, consumer groups, resident welfare associations, small and medium enterprises, trade associations, media, local communities, etc. CAG has partnered with local civil society (CSO) / consumer organisations to promote the same through capacity-building, advocating for their interests, and promoting energy efficiency and clean energy.

CAG, in partnership with Consumer Rights, Education and Awareness Trust (CREAT), organised the 1st capacity-building workshop at BMS College of Law, Bengaluru, Karnataka on 6th March, 2024.

Event’s digital poster designed by members of CLARC, BMS College of Law

A total of 30 participants comprising civil society representatives, consumer activists, academicians and law students attended the workshop.

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Participants during the workshop discussion 

Ms Vanathi, Researcher, CAG gave the keynote address providing an overview of the project along with its expected outcomes. She emphasized the importance of consumer organizations in strengthening consumer participation in the electricity sector by sharing CAG's experiences of creating consumer awareness, helping consumers with grievance redressal, and connecting them with government agencies.    Additionally, she explained how important it is for consumers to become familiar with the structure and functioning of the electricity sector to become active participants in the energy transition.

Ms Vanathi gave an overview of the project and also distributed a few IEC materials designed by CAG for participants’ awareness and understanding

Mr Y G Muralidharan, founder trustee of CREAT and former member of the Karnataka Electricity Regulatory Commission [KERC] Advisory Committee and later head of the Office of Consumer Advocacy in the KERC, explained the role of consumer groups in acting as a countervailing force between electricity suppliers and the regulators on the one hand, and consumers and their rights on the other. He said that consumers should equip themselves with expert knowledge and skills so that their voice is heard by the regulators. He also said that apart from grievance resolutions, consumers should be involved in formulating policies, rules, regulations and tariff determination. During his speech, he also emphasised safety issues related to the transmission and distribution of electricity.

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Mr Y G Muralidhararn, during his speech

Mr Anilkumar, a senior officer from the Energy Department of the Government of Karnataka, made a presentation on the basic framework of the Electricity Act 2003. He emphasised that consumer participation is highly valued under this Act, to the extent that Regulatory Commissions can only create rules or regulations with public participation. The Act has brought transparency to the workings of electricity companies and in the determination of electricity tariffs.  Mr Anilkumar also highlighted the importance of provisions related to consumer grievances. He explained that electricity companies have established consumer forums and an electricity ombudsman to address appeals.

Mr Anilkumar, while explaining the Electricity Act 2003 to the participants

Following Mr Anilkumar’s presentation, two booklets  - one on electricity bills and the other on electricity tariff determination were released and distributed to the participants.

Launch of booklets

Mr K N Venkatagiri Rao, Secretary of Balakedarara Vedike (Consumer Forum) located in Sagar, Shivamogga District, talked about the process of determining electricity tariffs and the provisions available for consumers’ participation.  Mr Rao has extensive experience in participating in public hearings for the past 15 years and is a former member of the Advisory Committee of KERC and a current member of the Consumer Grievance Redressal Forum of Mangaluru Electricity Supply Company (MESCOM). He shared examples where consumers' voices were recognized and taken into account in the tariff policy.  He also explained the legal requirements that ESCOMS are required to fulfil relating to tariffs. Some examples included filing Annual Revenue Requirements and other documents with the Regulatory Commission. Additionally, he elaborated on the components of the tariff and how consumers can file their objections.

Mr K N Venkatagiri along with other participants, during the workshop

The last session of the workshop was devoted to strategizing and discussing the deliverables to be attained before meeting for the next workshop.  It was decided to complete the following tasks by May 2024:

  1. Establishment of at least 10 local electricity forums to provide training, information sharing, and support for addressing electricity grievances at the local level. The forums will also collaborate with local ESCOM officials.
  2. Baseline survey: The established local electricity forums will conduct a baseline survey using a questionnaire to assess consumers' problems, their participation and their understanding of regulatory affairs. Based on the findings, the forums will organise information-sharing programs for the consumers. Each forum will survey 100 consumers. The survey results will help the Local Electricity Forums in raising issues with the ESCOMs and the Regulatory Commission.
  3. Resolving electricity-related grievances: The local electricity forums will address at least 10 consumer complaints regarding electricity supply, metering, billing, etc. They will attempt to resolve these issues by involving ESCOM officials/CGRF.
  4. Preparation and distribution of awareness materials like guidebooks, booklets, posters, FAQ pamphlets etc.
  5. Publishing of newsletter: A monthly newsletter, in both hard and soft copies, is planned to be published regularly to disseminate news, articles, and rules on the electricity sector. 

The event concluded with participants’ feedback and experience-sharing.

Participants of the workshop

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